- in Yoga
There is no doubt doing yoga everyday has many benefits. However establishing a regular yoga practice can be a difficult task. Man Flow Yoga understands this so Dean Pohlman creates challenges to help you develop your yoga practice. I decided to accept one of his latest challenges, 21x30 Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to see what 30 minutes of yoga every day for 21 days can do for your fitness, your overall health, and even your mental well-being.
Simply, complete one workout, averaging 30 minutes, every day for 21 days.
At the end of 21 days, you can expect:
Dean selected 21 of his favourite and recently released workouts from the Man Flow Yoga Workout Library. They offer a variety of challenges focused on strengthening your entire body, including:
- Core & Spine
- Upper Back & Shoulders
- Hips, Glutes & Thighs
- Knees & Ankles
- Side Body
The challenge starts with beginner-friendly workouts. They are informative with lots of instruction on alignment, form and posture. Even if yoga is not new to you, they should still be challenging, fun, and effective. After that you will progress to his more advanced workouts as you near the end of the challenge.
Who’s it for?
ALL yoga skill levels, fitness experiences, and all types of people. Whatever your main workouts or physical goals are - the challenge will help you get stronger, move better, and feel better. Everyday you’ll receive an email with details on the workout of the day and how it will help you get stronger. Additionally there is also a motivational message to inspire you to complete the workout that day.
- Miss a workout? Don’t worry. Double up the next day (one in the morning, one in the evening) or skip it. But don’t do 3 in one day.
- Got other workouts to do? Good! Keep doing them. Do them at the opposite time of day you’re doing Man Flow Yoga. (Ex: Man Flow Yoga in the morning, weight training in the evening.)
- Best Practice: Do the workouts at the same every day. Pick a time, stick with it, and make it a non-negotiable priority.
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The Challenge Diary
I decided to record the daily workouts of the challenge in a diary. Each day I detail what each workout consisted, length and what level of intensity they are. In addition, there are details of the purpose of each workout and what areas of the body its focused on. Moreover, I discussed some of the poses and exercises, tips from Dean and how the workout challenged me physically.
Day 1 - Full-Body AM Workout
Today’s workout is 27 minutes in length. Its designed to hit every muscle in your body and provide an awesome start to the day. Its targets tight areas of your body and works on balance to increase your energy. This is a very active first session which starts with a few standing balancing poses. These types of exercise awaken dormant muscles and focus the mind. As a result, halfway through the workout I was feeling more energised. My tight areas are hamstrings and hips and they loosened up a lot. The workout finished with Lizard and Pigeon poses. They are dynamic and Dean demonstrated alternatives to go deeper into the stretches.
Day 2 - Strength, Endurance, and Muscle Activation for Hips, Core and Side Body
This 30 minute workout is from the Manflowyoga strength foundations course. It focuses on hip and side engagement and applying them to full body yoga postures. In addition, it draws attention to your hips and torso, strengthening and improving their mobility. The benefits are not only improved balancing. Equally, it reduces back pain or discomfort, and helps prevent further injury. This workout begins with a few muscle activation exercises. Importantly, these turn on and strengthen major muscles in your hips and core. It then moves on to more full body exercises.
It is a challenging second session even though it’s a beginners routine. I found the leg raises at start quite intense and side planks will hurt if you haven’t done them for a while. Dean provides excellent explanations on the importance of muscle activation. Additionally there are detailed instructions on how to setup for lunge, warrior one and chair poses.
Day 3 - Active Hamstring Mobility & Engagement for Forward Folds
This is another workout from the strength foundation course. Its focuses on improving active hamstring mobility and teaching proper hip and core muscle engagement in forward folds. Injuries from forwards folds are common in yoga studios. They are difficult for lots of people as they require a lot of muscle activation. Consequently, if you do yoga regularly, I think this session will change your views on forward folds. Dean explains the importance of making forward folds active rather than a passive stretch. This requires active mobility and muscle engagement and attention to detail. Additionally you will also focus on the alignment of your back when doing forward folds which will help correct posture and imbalances. If you have tight hamstrings you should make sure you have a block or two available. Dean also recommends you use a mirror or record yourself so you know what your body looks like in the postures. Very useful!
Day 4 - Movement Essentials (Spine, Core, & Hips)
Part of the Movement Essentials series, this is a more basic workout than the previous three days. Consequently, this could have been the Day 1 workout as it focuses on essential yoga elements like posture and injury prevention. Furthermore it is also suitable for people getting back into fitness or recovering from injury or seniors. Dean spends quite a bit of time explaining the correct setup for mountain pose and lunges. Although this can be a boring for more seasoned practitioners, it is always good to strip the most popular poses back to their basics.
Day 5 - Hip Flexibility & Mobility for Bulletproof Knees
A comprehensive lower body workout that focuses on the hips mobility and flexibility for injury prevention. Attention is given to improving mobility for healthier, stronger, more injury-resistant knees. It targets your inner thighs (abductors), outer thighs, hamstrings, hip flexors, quads and gluteus. It is a challenging forty minute workout, therefore I wouldn’t recommend it on or straight after legs day! The squat walks at the beginning really sets the pace of what to expect. Dean is determined to push you to work deeper and push past your comfort levels, all the while remaining in control of your body.
Day 6 - Hamstring Mobility & Core Strength for Downdogs
This workout is from the Manflowyoga Strength Foundations course. It may be the most well known yoga pose, Downdog (full name “downward facing dog”) is actually quite hard to do correctly. Ultimately you need to use core strength, hamstring mobility and upper body strength to do it. In this session, Dean uses a light resistance theraband to warm up the muscles in the hamstrings and hips. He then explains the importance of the L shape in downdog before demonstrating the correct form and posture for it. Significantly, there is a lot of core work in the workout that will help improve your down dog. To replicate doing downdog correctly, we buildup to by doing half lifts, downdog on the wall and staff pose. Specifically, they help you practice downdog by creating the L shape with your body. By the end of this workout you should be able to do downdog with all the proper engagement.
Day 7 - Strong Backbends: Full Body Engagement in Spinal Extension
A challenging 30 plus minutes that covers all the key elements and poses for stronger backbends. The warm-up again is muscle activation using a theraband (I would recommend getting this prop). Henceforth, the main focus of the workout is backbends with full body engagement. This is important as it means you are strengthening your spine without risking injury. It also stops the pinching that many people experience when doing backbends. The poses covered are baby and full cobra, lunges with backbends, standing backbends, locust and sphinx. Definitely doing this workout I realised how much more I can do in my backbends.
Day 8 - Yoga to Build Lean Lower Body Muscle Mass
I can confidently say this is one of the most challenging lower body workouts I have done for a long time. Consequently it was also super enjoyable as there is so much variety in it. It starts with muscle activation through core exercises and balance poses. Henceforth there are more intense poses and stretches aimed at deepening your range of motion. Predominantly focusing on form and correct posture. The final third of the workout is endurance and strength which really fires up the lower body. If you like or want to improve your squats this is the session you should do on a regular basis…that’s if you are up for it!
Day 9 - Core Strength for Bulletproof Knees
This is a fun workout that has lots of variety. There is a heavy focus on strengthening the core to prevent knee and soft-tissue injuries. Having a stronger core will allow you to put more of your bodyweight into your hips. When you lack core strength you tend to lean forward rather than back. Consequently that puts a lot more pressure on your knees when you are doing lunges and squats. The session consists of warm exercises for the core, planks and balances. It then progresses to many other poses that provide a great lower-body and core focused workout.
Day 10 - Ankle Strength, Stability & Mobility for Bulletproof Knees
A very technical workout today which is engaging and informative. It contains a lot of balance, mobility and stability exercises, pushing the boundaries of the lower body mobility. There is a lot of focus on your ankles, calves and toes which most people don’t workout as much as other parts of their body. Ultimately, the advantages of strengthening these areas is that it prevents ankle injuries. Additionally improved mobility, stability and strength in the ankles also lessens the chances of soft-tissue injuries like MCL, ACL, or meniscus injuries. The session is a slower than many of the previous workouts as the focus is on precise engagement and technique. In any event it is still challenging and you may find many poses more uncomfortable as your body will not be used to them.
Day 11 - Hip Strength for Bulletproof Knees
in this 35 minute session, Dean focuses on four muscle groups; gluten, hip abductors, hip flexors and quads. Explicitly strengthening these muscle groups puts less strain on your knees and avoid injuries. This is critical in improving engagement and strength in the hips and increasing mobility. The workout begins with some hip activation exercises that are very effective. Donkey kicks engage the glutes and loosen up the hamstrings which you don’t use that much in daily life. These are followed by alternative leg raises from boat, keeping you back as flat as possible and lifting the hips up. In this pose your isolate the hips and turn them on. Ultimately the workout progresses and becomes more dynamic with lots of different lunges and squats. They are quite challenging as they are done slowly, breathing deeply to get the maximum engagement in the hips.
Day 12 - The Clark Workouts – Part 3
Today’s workout is from the Clark workout series. These workouts are specifically designed to give you all of the results of a fitness-centric yoga program in just about 30 minutes per day. Essentially, this program is everything yoga does to ensure your body stays healthy, strong, and mobile. This session is focused on stretching out everything that gets tight in the day. Accordingly it targets your hips, spine, back, and upper-body to build strength in all the right places. It is not as intensive as some of the previous day’s workouts but it is a good all rounder and you feel great in less than 30 minutes. It starts by warming up with child pose stretch and cat-cow and bird dogs. Chiefly these poses are very effective at activating, loosening and stretching most parts of the body. The remainder of the workout contains more active poses, so expect downward dog, lunges, squats, side angle and warrior 2 movements.
Day 13 - Dynamic Balance Workout
This workout is designed to help improve your balance, prevent injury and improve your balance in transitions. Correspondingly the session is split into two phases. The first phase of the workout involves going through most of the balance poses in yoga. Additionally It will contain poses such as lunges that can be used to transition from one balance to the next. In the second phase we connect the balance and transition poses in randomised sequences. Equally the sequences can contain 1 or 2 poses or be more complex with 4 or 5 poses. The purpose of phase two is to challenge your balance by keeping you guessing on what is coming next. This will help you build more strength in you lower body for injury prevention. In fact it is a real fun workout as incorporates poses like airplane, eagle, half moon standing bow and standing march hold. This workout is part of the Bulletproof Your Knees Series. It is suitable for beginners and will definitely challenge you!
Day 14 - The Clark Workouts – Part 5
Another workout from the Clark workout series. Uniquely it contains a lot of full body and isometric holds that are strength focused. Moreover the purpose of the workout is to build muscle, improve mobility and strength. There are more upper-body poses than in other workouts but you should still feel some burn in the core and lower body. Comparatively this is an intermediate level workout with the intensity being 3 out of 5. It starts with a few stretches to warm up and activate the whole body. Most of them are ones you have done a few times already while doing this challenge so you may notice that your body is now more responsive. Conversely you may notice that you have more range in some of the poses and this is the main benefit of doing yoga on a regular basis. This workout is great if you are pressed for time but want the benefits of a longer workout. It covers all the essential poses that provide an excellent all body workout.
Day 15 - Muscle Building Isometrics for Glutes, Hips, Thighs, & Core
This workout is only 25 minutes in length at the same time it's quite intense. It features essential full body yoga poses to build build strength and muscle in your lower-body. Again there is a strong focus on poses that build core and hip strength. Ultimately the intensity in the workout comes from holding the poses longer than in previous workout. You can expect to hold all the poses in this workout for at least one minute. There is also less instruction from Dean in this workout but all the poses are ones you should be familiar with. Most of the instruction he does provide is about your breathing which is very valuable. Particularly deep controlled breathing through your nose will help you when holding poses for a long time. The poses covered are bridge, high lunge, pigeon, squat, standing balance, warrior 2 and wide leg forward folds.
Day 16 - Full Body Strength & Recovery Flow
Today's workout was a dynamic flow yoga sequence that builds strength and also aids in recovery. It is 25 minutes in duration so can be used as a training workout or in a recovery session. The poses in the sequence target the back and shoulders, hips, spine and core. Additionally the intensity is medium to hard and will help in reducing any soreness in your shoulders or stiffness in the back. The poses in this workout are boat, child’s pose, cat-cow, cobra, downward and upward facing dog, lizard, plank and side plank, side angle, squat and warrior 2! In conclusion this is a flow sequence that is very dynamic in nature and when finished you will feel very satisfied!
Day 17 - Advanced Hip Flexor Workout for Strength & Flexibility
This workout is an advanced one from Manflowyoga, so expect to get a bit sweaty! This hip flexor workout will strengthen and improve the flexibility of your psoas muscle. Hip flexors connect your upper body to your lower body and determine your range of motion in raising your legs or lunge depth. Therefore the workout focuses on developing strength in the hip flexors to get the maximum range of motion in them. It involves the use of your full body, including core strength, lower-body endurance, balance. On the whole doing this workout regularly will significantly increase the strength of your hips and core. This especially important for advanced single-leg exercises like pistol squats and other one-leg squats. This will also help with sprinting, jumping, and normal squats. Most of the poses in this workout have been covered in previous but the intensity has been increased. The only new pose is the final one which is a couch stretch or lizard reach back stretch.
Day 18 - The Full Body Works
The tough workouts keep on coming! Today's is a 30 minute full body workout to build balance, endurance, mobility and strength. Ultimately the goal is to work all areas of your body including hips, shoulders, core, and chest. The sequence is dynamic featuring twists, bends, openings, lunges, and squats. Accordingly there are no breaks, so you will be working hard throughout! The workout finishes with pigeon pose with an extra challenge of incorporating a quadricep stretch! To summarize this is a workout you should do regularly if you want to get stronger, build endurance and improve balance and mobility.
Day 19 - 32 Minute Slow Flow for Hips, Core, & Back
This workout has minimal instructions allowing you to focus without too many distractions. By now you should also know all the names of the poses and feel comfortable with your alignment in them. This workout has a fantastic flow and rhythm, you move from one pose to the next one very easily. It will challenge your endurance and improve your mobility. The workout focus on the core, hips and spine but it is a really a full body workout. The exercises target hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, glutes, core, spine and back. However being a slow flow it allows for more time to make adjustments and work deeper into the poses. I really noticed the impact of doing yoga regularly in this workout. I felt very comfortable holding poses like chair and upward dog for longer with relaxed breathing. Consequently my squats and warrior poses are going a lot deeper. It is a great workout to keep coming back to, to track your progress.
Day 20 - Abs for Inversions
Today's workout is another tough one! The purpose of this workout is to build strength in your core for advanced arm inversions like handstand, crow pose, and forearm stand. The standard of the core exercises is very high and it is non-stop. Therefore you should find it quite challenging and the intensity high. Ultimately I found the workout extra tough as the core exercises focus on the lower abdominal area. Overall this helps in strengthening the pelvic floor which will provide stability when you get in inversion positions. So when you do a handstand your legs will not wobble back and forth and you have more control.
The workout starts with some movements to activate the core. Included were hands to thighs, reverse crunches and supine bicycles. These movements are great at getting your abs, hips flexors and pelvic floor as warm as possible. It then progresses to more intensive core exercises including alternating leg levers and raises. Next we move on to some standing balances before more ground core exercises. These include planks, downdogs, boat, full and half locust poses. Finally it finishes with L-sits which you should do with yoga blocks as they are super challenging! Although it is less than 25 mins in length, it was a real struggle to complete the workout. But I saved it straight away and aim to do it regularly to improve my core and hip strength.
Day 21 - Intense Slow Flow for Mindful Strength
An intense workout to end the 21 days of 30 minute yoga challenge. It is a 37-minute full body slow flow focused on building strength and working deeper into your mobility. This is an intermediate to advanced workout that will hit all the areas we have been training for the past 3 weeks. There is also minimal instruction however Dean does point out some finer technique details. The exercises targets the core, hips, lower and upper body and the shoulders. Furthermore it is a flow routine that has a strong fitness focus working on endurance and strength. It starts standing and stays active throughout so no breaks and no child’s pose in this workout! You will build up a nice sweat, challenge yourself strength-wise, and feel great afterwards. Finally there are some great combinations of balance and twists that should take you out of your comfort zone.
Conclusion and next steps
I completed the challenge in 25 days and the most days I did yoga consecutively was 12 days. Overall I really enjoyed this challenge and achieved the expected improvements and outcomes. Furthermore the variety of the workouts resulted in full body exercise throughout the challenge. Even though I am quite an experienced yogi, I found the workouts fun, challenging and extremely effective. One of the few disadvantages doing online yoga is that you have to keep looking at the video to check you are doing the correct poses. Practicing on consecutive days improves your knowledge of the poses, consequently your progress is more fluid as you don’t need to check the video so often. Other Man Flow Yoga members appear to have enjoyed it as there were plenty of comments on the challenge page on the website and the Facebook community.
Completing this challenge has reminded of why Man Flow Yoga is a great platform to do yoga and stay fit and healthy. It believes that getting and staying in shape should be a simple process. By doing the right exercises and investing 20 to 30 minutes every other day you will see great results. If your goal is to stay healthy, injury-free and mobile, MFY workouts are exactly what you need. Man Flow Yoga is full of great content. The Workout Library currently has more than 200 videos over twenty minutes in length. It allows you to do workouts with different skill levels and target different areas of the body. You can also select workout to target a particular fitness focus or intensity level. Membership offers great value with the most costly membership being cheaper than the cost of a single yoga class!